Parrots in pet shops

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Are you considering buying a highly intelligent, sentient creature, such as a parrot, from a pet shop? Please read the following information, sent to us from a correspondent, and understand why parrots do not belong in pet shops.

Here are some points that Henry has made me aware of - but I know he will be teaching me a lot more, day by day.

The large pet shop was on a retail park - as most of them are.

Next door was a McDonalds - so Henry was too familiar with chips, fast food and other non parrot food.

Pet shops are retail - so the cleaner and better-presented the cage, the better the selling power. Therefore, no fresh fruit and veg - would have made messy poohs!

The younger shop assistants used to 'parade' him around the shop - always on their shoulder - and he is now having to learn to only go onto the shoulder when invited.

Shops close early - 6pm for most large retail pet shops. Most people have the early evening for the relaxed quality playtime with parrots. So, the body clock needs to be gently adjusted over a period of time.

When 'packed down for the night', a shop is still, with no movement. In a house, the lights may be dimmed, but there is still movement - as the bird is likely to go to bed long before the family retire. Walking past the cage can be terrifying for them, once they are settled and covered for the night.

Although taken off the shop floor for a rest period during the day, a shop is always active and noisy. The bird has no real rest time to sleep during the day.

For security reasons, the bird has to be 'parked' as near to the till as possible - so someone is always there to keep eye. That means being in front of those horrendous automatic doors that whoosh cold air straight onto the feathers.

For display purposes, there is no dark corner in the cage for the bird to have as a 'safe corner.' Every inch has to be open - and the cage in an open space to give maximum show of the bird.

Although familiar with lots of activity and loud noises in a shop, the bird has never heard a front door bell or other daily noises of a house.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how alien a house must be compared to a shop.

Henry had been in the shop for many months - and had gone there from a breeder - so had never seen wallpaper etc or smelt household smells.

The adjustments have been enormous for him - but I have the experience of parrots to know that the most important stage has been to build complete confidence in me, so he can relax in my company when new things present themselves. I have given him a covered corner of his cage - so he can 'hide' in my absence if he feels unsettled. As much as I know he is in a better place than the shop, I am always aware of the strangeness of everything for him.

What we all need to remember is that we always need to see things through their eyes - never expect them to see things through our eyes.

When people ask me if any of mine talk, I always reply "yes, they talk my language, but, more importantly, I talk their language".

There's been lots of publicity and advice on rehoming parrots - ones that have lived with previous carers - BUT I've never seen any advice about ex-petshop birds. There's books on bringing a bird home from a breeder - how to raise and teach them - NOTHING about the traumatic transition from pet shop to house. I know for a fact, if a parrot doesn't sell in one branch, yet the same type of parrot has sold in another branch - they move the bird to the store they think will have a better chance of selling it. Therefore, the bird may have spent many, many months living in a petshop environment.

By Kathy Howell

Read "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window"